The most important thing when aiming to free yourself of an overactive mind is to remember that the mind is just a tool for you to use. Not the other way around. If you find yourself in a situation where your mind has become overbearing and perhaps obnoxious to the point where it believes it has the right to direct you to doing things for it, or is giving you anxiety, then treat it as you would an overbearing and obnoxious person. That is to say:
- Make space. Obviously, you can’t separate physically from your mind, so the trick to this is to make space between one mind’s thought and another. My favorite way to do this is to stare at something and if a thought comes just ignore it and make a point to listen to your breath instead.
- Find wonder in everything. If you can smile while looking at what ever you chose to look at above, then I find that also invites a sense of wonder into the picture. This has a welcome, uplifting effect as well. It will also remind your mind of who is really in control. You, not it.
- Tell it to shut up and go away. Telling someone to shut up is not my favorite way of ending an argument and I don’t usually condone it, but, this is the strategy that worked for me when I couldn’t take the inner criticism any longer. I didn’t plan to do this, but, one day, I found myself alone at home whilst my mind was overbearing me with self-hate over and over again. I got so angry at the non-stop banter that I shouted to the top of my lungs “Shut up! That’s enough! Go away!”. Not a very scientific method, but my mind has never been critical like that again.
- Distract it. Distract your mind with projects. Your mind is a well-oiled analytical power tool. Its main functions are to analyze, understand, re-frame, question, find an answer to the question, repeat the cycle. Mind is relentless at these functions. If you don’t give it some external project to apply those abilities to, it will select YOU as the project itself. Guaranteed. So, it helps to choose a hobby. Select a craft, write a book, go out walking. It doesn’t matter what the external project is. Your mind will free you of its banter if it is engaged in figuring out something else.
- Be present in the now. The all-time crowd-approved, sage-approved way to free yourself from an overactive mind is to learn to live in the present moment. The main point of this is to stop thinking of the future and the past. When you are arguing with someone, the argument can go on forever if you keep revisiting what happened in the past or if you keep hypothesizing about things that haven’t even happened yet. Instead, focus on the moment you are living. That is how you’ll get somewhere in solving an argument with an over-thinking person. Similarly, with an overactive mind. Whenever you get a chance, take in the moment. Stop, take a deep breath and look, smell and listen. What is in front of you? To the sides, above, below. Are you in a situation? Who is there? Pay attention to the details and even though it may be grim and not at all enjoyable ask yourself, what can I learn from this? Why am I living this right now? How will this make me a better person? Your life experience itself will change tremendously the more you learn to see the moment you are in this way. Life will no longer be about the details, which your mind has gotten hung-up on overanalyzing. Instead, life will let you in on the big picture of why you are here, and what other, more advanced and way cooler tools the world can unlock for you other than that overthinking mind of yours.
The strategies above are tried and true, commonly used techniques to free yourself from an overactive mind. There are other more obscure, less travelled options that I came across during my research on the topic of freeing oneself from an overactive mind. I will address those in a separate article. For now, I hope you find the above techniques useful and that you find that silence you are longing for.